Army reforms announced in bid to protect female soldiers from abuse

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After acknowledging serious failures in protecting women in the military from sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination, the government has agreed to a number of reforms.

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The move follows a report by the Commons Defense Committee, which spoke to victims of abuse and prejudice, highlighting the systematic failures that allowed the situation to exist.

One of the major changes being made is that complaints of a sexual nature would be removed from the control of the chain of command that was previously responsible for investigation, and in the process condemned by lawmakers as a “single point of failure”. Went. ,


But the Defense Ministry refused to act on the committee’s recommendation that rape and sexual assault cases should be moved from military courts to the civilian legal framework. It also refused to limit the appeal time for convicts to six weeks and make the decision of the Military Ombudsman binding.

A Defense Serious Crimes unit headed by a new Provost Marshal will conduct investigations outside the chain of command. The number of army women to sit on the court martial board in cases of alleged sexual offences will be increased. A new sexual exploitation and abuse policy will address the issue of military personnel and sex workers and “ensure that the interests of the victim are given priority”.

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Complaints of bullying, harassment and discrimination will also be moved from the command chain to a new outsourced investigative service, in addition to a smaller number of cases.

The chiefs of staff of the services also promised to look into effective ways to remove people who have been found to have committed sex crimes, or are responsible for inappropriate behavior, but still remain in the armed forces. There will be a revised approach to the prosecution of sexual offenses and a complaint system providing greater anonymity for the victims will be put in place by April 2022.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) says it wants to have 30 percent of the military inducted into women by 2030 and has a “six-month sprint” on issues such as women’s health policies, equipment and uniforms to facilitate this.

reply to report Protecting those who defend us: From women enlistment in the armed forces to civilian life, the government noted that the document “makes it clear that on several occasions the defense has failed to provide women with the experience they deserve. Our servicemen needed to give their courageous testimony, we needed to hear them, And we will make sure that we keep hearing their voices.

“The service will have a defense-wide strategy for how rape and serious sex crimes are handled within the justice system, recognizing the importance of harm caused by sex crimes to our people and the wider service community… To maintain and develop our women and to give them the confidence that they can succeed, have successful careers in the Armed Forces and cannot be limited.

As well as the Defense Committee report, the government’s decisions were shaped by a review conducted by Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston in 2019. The Defense Ministry said an inquiry into the prevalence of unacceptable behavior by the RAF chief had made 36 recommendations, of which 22 have been delivered and the rest are “currently being progressed”.

Sarah Atherton MP, chair of the Women in the Armed Forces sub-committee, said: “The power of emotion on this issue is clear, with over 4,100 women contributing to our investigation. There is much more to do, but it is clear that Improving the experiences of women in the Armed Forces is becoming a priority for the Ministry of Defense. I would like to thank Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace for his continued commitment to soldiers and veterans.

“Our investigation found that six out of 10 women who had experienced abuse did not complain for fear of the impact on their careers, or because they thought nothing would be done. The fact that a servicewoman was Now one can secure a sexual complaint in the knowledge that her straight chain won’t handle it, that’s a huge step forward.”

Ms Atherton said: “However, it is disappointing that the Defense Ministry has refused to remove rape cases from court martial jurisdiction, while there is clear evidence that the current system has failed to deliver justice.

“The Ministry of Defense has gone a long way on the chain of command role in grievances. This change will make a real difference to the lives of women serving and the women of future service.”

Ms Atherton continued: “However, it is disappointing that the Defense Ministry has refused to remove rape cases from court martial jurisdiction, while there is clear evidence that the current system has failed to deliver justice.

“It is clear that the army is a male-dominated institution and therefore I am happy that the government has set itself ambitious targets… This ambition is welcome: Let us ensure that these goals are met, not missed. “

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said: “While nearly 90 percent of the women involved in this investigation said they would recommend careers in the armed forces, it is clear that more change is needed. I am grateful to all the women who have served on the Defense Committee. Contributed to the report, we have listened carefully and are implementing bold changes in response.

“Having tested the recommendations with our own Service Women network, we are embracing almost all of them – and in many cases really taking them forward. I look forward to continuing to work together, and make sure we see meaningful progress.”


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